chapter  16
Tactics and Recruitment in Eighteenth Century Prussia
ByDennis E. Showalter
Pages 27

The new military history, with its focus on the political and economic, the social and intellectual matrices of Revolutionary war, has found one of its most fruitful areas of study in eighteenth-century Prussia. The Prussian army of the eighteenth century was certainly a product of the greater world of political, social, and economic developments. The tactical concepts Frederick the Great initially took to war were at once a response to and an extension of his infantry's professional skills. Frederick II's acceptance of assault tactics was also facilitated by the composition of his infantry. Until 1733, the Prussian army was recruited from volunteers. Adjustment to reality was also facilitated by the fact that the Prussian infantry had never abandoned fire tactics and fire training. Eighteenth-century Prussia was by no means completely disarmed, but familiarity with hunting weapons did not prefigure competent handling of a military musket, particularly under the stresses of battle.